Living With a Spinal Cord Injury - Bladder Care
You may use just one program or a combination of methods.
In general, any of the first three methods can be used if you cannot store
urine (spastic bladder), and an ICP is used if you cannot empty your bladder
The most important factors in bladder
management are monitoring the amount of fluids you drink, following a regular
schedule for emptying your bladder, and being sure that you empty your bladder
completely. Your rehab team will help you set up a schedule based on your needs
and the amount of fluids you generally drink.
A number of medicines are available to
help you manage your bladder. These include:
- Anticholinergics, such as oxybutynin and
propantheline, which calm the bladder muscles. They may prevent uncontrollable
bladder contractions (spasms) that force urine out of the bladder.
- Cholinergics, such as bethanechol, which can help the bladder
to squeeze, forcing out urine. When cholinergics are used, other medicines may also be used to help relax the muscles that hold urine in the bladder. These include alpha-blockers (for example, terazosin) and botulinum toxin.
Research continues on bladder management. New methods
include surgically implanted components that stimulate the bladder through a
Note: Bladder problems can
autonomic dysreflexia, a syndrome in which there is a
sudden onset of very
high blood pressure and headaches. If not treated
promptly and correctly, it may lead to
stroke, and even death. Although autonomic dysreflexia
rarely leads to these more serious complications, it is important to know the
symptoms and watch for them. Autonomic dysreflexia is more common in people
with an injury to the
thoracic nerves of the spine or above (T6 or above).